Army Reservist Cathy Tong is PGA Professional George Pinnell's Next Prodigy

PGA Professional George Pinnell, of the George Pinnell Golf Academy, has been an instrumental cog to many of golf’s rising stars including the world’s top-ranked amatuer Rose Zhang. Pinnell, however, has an emerging golf talent to watch out for, 19-year-old Cathy Tong. 

Tong’s ascent in the golf world is impressive considering she is relatively new to the game of golf, having picked up her first club during her freshman year of high school. Cathy’s deep passion for the game and desire to improve led her to Pinnell, where in two short years under his tutelage she has progressed at a rapid rate. Fast forward to her senior year in 2019 at Newport Harbor High as she put together an impressive six-under par 68 to win the CIF Southern Section Individual Southern Regional, further validating her potential. 

Pinnell worked diligently early on to improve Tong’s swing plane and consistency with making solid contact on the golf ball. Despite her progress, Tong, at five foot five and 105 pounds, realized she would need to dramatically improve her strength in order to increase her ability to generate a higher clubhead speed. She felt her small frame would eventually limit her potential to excel at a higher level. 

Tong, at 18-years-old, decided to enlist in the United States Army Reserves as a way to serve her country while improving her physique, mental fortitude, and discipline. During 2020, without Pinnell’s knowledge, Tong participated in basic training and bootcamps at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. 

When Tong returned to Southern California in early 2021, Pinnell was blown away at how much muscle she was able to put on and the fact that she joined the military. He quickly discovered that her body transformation translated to a dramatic increase in distance as she boosted her average driver distance from 230 yards to 275 yards.

“What Cathy was able to do physically and mentally in 2020 and to come out the way she did is a tremendous statement about herself and her discipline and tenacity to get better,” said Pinnell. 

Tong’s hard work and dedication has paid off as she plans to play collegiate golf this fall at CSU Monterey Bay while simultaneously continuing to be a part of the Army Reserves.

“I put a lot into my golf game and really want to prove myself. I also look forward to playing for [CSU Monterey Bay Head Women’s Golf Coach] Jim Ragan and being a leader to my teammates,” said Cathy. 

Be sure to lookout for Tong in the headlines as she has her sights set on becoming an LPGA Tour player and proving to herself she has what it takes to make it far in golf. 

Tong is a perfect example of the value a PGA Professional can provide a player who has the drive to become better at their craft. With Pinnell’s years of experience and expertise in the field paired with the inner drive and motivation of Tong, this duo is slated to produce big waves across the golf world in the years to come. Keep your eyes on the horizon for the talented Tong as she pursues a career on the LPGA Tour.   

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